Camping has evolved over the years, and many different gadgets and gear have come up to help us practice the hobby as safely as possible. The greatest investment for any camper however, is undoubtedly their tent, and one of the key considerations that needs to be taken into account prior to purchasing a new or replacement model, is the material its made from.
…And so in this article we’re going to talk about the most respected material in the industry; canvas, and given its high durability and thermal performance, specifically focus on the best canvas tents suitable for winter camping.
Starting off with a list and review of our top 5 recommended tents, we then go onto provide an in depth guide to identifying the most important aspects and elements that need to be consider before buying such a product.
Firstly for speed and efficiency we have reviewed and shortlisted our top 5 results, and believe the below products form a summary of what we consider to be some of the best winter canvas tents currently available:
Best Overall: Teton Sports Sierra 16 Canvas Tent
Best Appearance: Kodiak Flex Bow VX Canvas Tent
Largest Floor Area: Trek 245C Canvas Tent
Most Spacious: DANCHEL Bell Canvas Tent
Most Luxurious: White Duck Outdoors Premium Bell Canvas Tent
Best winter canvas tents product reviews
01 – Teton Sports Sierra 16 Winter Canvas Tent Review
Tent Dimensions – 192 x 192 x 113 inches | Ceiling Height – 113 inches | Tent Weight – 80 pounds | Capacity – 8-12 persons | Ceiling Material – Canvas | Wall Material – Canvas | Floor Material – Canvas | Easy to Set Up – Yes | Number of Doors – 1 | Ventilation Panels – Yes | Peak Height – 113 inches | Stovepipe Hole – No
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With a floor area of 201 square feet, this tent is an excellent buy for your family. It can easily accommodate 8 to 12 people and has a very large door for entries and exits.
There are two ventilation panels on opposite sides of the tent, making for a good cross breeze when you want some cool air flowing in during hotter periods. It also has an added canopy on the top for extra protection from the elements.
For us that made it an especially good choice for winter camping. We also love how easy it is to set up. It needs only two poles to assemble and the steel stakes seem to do a great job of driving through any terrain.
- Two pole assembly makes for easy set up
- Very spacious
- Doubles as a tent and canopy
- No stovepipe hole
- Could do with more ventilation panels
02 – Kodiak Flex Bow VX Waterproof Quick Winter Canvas Tent With Tarp Review
Tent Dimensions – 10 feet by 14 feet | Ceiling Height – 6 feet 6 inches | Tent Weight – 84.6 pounds | Capacity – 8 persons | Ceiling Material – 10-ounce hydra shield canvas | Wall Material – 8.5 ounce hydra shield canvas | Floor Material – 16 ounce polyester reinforced vinyl with welded seams | Easy to Set Up – Yes | Number of Doors – 2 | Ventilation Panels – Yes | Peak Height – 6 feet 6 inches | Stovepipe Hole – No
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Okay, there are quite a lot of things we love about this tent. The D-shaped doors are pretty large and there are two of them: one on the front and one on the back.
It also has 4 large windows and 2 ventilation panels for better air flow and temperature management. At no point while staying in this tent did we feel claustrophobic. The #10 YKK zippers on the doors and the no-see-um mesh on the ventilation panels were also a great addition. No bugs or other unwanted guests get to go inside the tent.
If you’re a tall person and like to be able to walk around in your tent, then the 6’6” ceiling height should be welcome news.
The canvas is treated with hydra shield, which the company claims is better than paraffin treatment, since it protects against water while leaving the canvas breathable. We can’t quite tell if that’s entirely true, but we can tell you we didn’t see a single drop of water leak in when we tested it with a garden sprinkler.
Overall it’s a great tent. we just wish it had a stove hole pipe.
- Plenty of doors and windows
- Strong zippers and mesh to prevent bugs and other unwanted guests
- Canvas is properly waterproofed
- No stove hole pipe
- Floor area not too large
03 – Trek Tents 245C Canvas Cabin 9’ x 12’ Winter Canvas Tent Review
Tent Dimensions – 9 feet by 12 feet | Ceiling Height – 7 feet 6 inches | Tent Weight – 55 pounds | Capacity – 7 people | Ceiling Material – waterproofed canvas | Wall Material – canvas | Floor Material – vinyl treated canvas | Easy to Set Up – no | Number of Doors – 1 | Ventilation Panels – yes | Peak Height – 7 feet 6 inches | Stovepipe Hole – No
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This is a very large tent. It’s the kind of tent that you don’t just camp in, but could also potentially live in for a very long time.
It comes with a tarp on top to help protect against harsh weather, making it great for the winter. However, the roof itself is also made of waterproofed canvas, so it can hold its own just as well.
The large door and 3 large windows do a great job of ensuring proper ventilation. The floor is made of vinyl coated canvas to make it waterproof.
Now, while the tent does not have a stovepipe hole, it does meet CPAI (Canvas Products Association International) – 84 fire retardant regulations. It’s pretty safe to light a stove inside it. Also, due to the large windows, leaving them open should let out the exhaust gases and keep you safe.
One thing we did not like about this tent is how hard it is to set up. It actually takes a lot longer than you might expect, and the set up instructions can be a bit hard to follow at times.
- Very spacious
- Plenty of ventilation
- Can accommodate a stove
- Hard to set up
- A bit on the pricier side
04 – DANCHEL Cotton Bell Tent Winter Canvas Tent Review
Tent Dimensions – 19.7 feet by 13.1 feet | Ceiling Height – 9.8 feet | Tent Weight – 132 pounds | Capacity – 10 to 12 persons | Ceiling Material – cotton canvas | Wall Material – cotton canvas | Floor Material – PVC | Easy to Set Up – yes | Number of Doors – 3 | Ventilation Panels – yes | Peak Height – 9.8 feet | Stovepipe Hole – yes
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This is yet another large tent. It’s from a Chinese manufacturer, so you’ll be getting your delivery from China, but they’re surprisingly pretty quick with the shipping, which we found very pleasing.
While it looks small in the pictures, it’s actually pretty tall down the middle. The wall height is only about 3 feet though, so it might be difficult for more than one person to stand at the same time in the tent.
The setup is pretty easy and a lot of pains have been taken to make the tent as comfortable as possible. More good news is that it comes with a stove pipe hole. Note, however, that the hole is only for 4” stove pipes, so don’t get anything too large.
- Very spacious
- Plenty of ventilation
- Anti-bug design
- Has a stove pipe hole
- Doesn’t support much standing
- Quite bulky
05 – White Duck Outdoors Premium Luxury Avalon Winter Canvas Bell Tent Review
Tent Dimensions – 13 feet | Ceiling Height – 8 feet 6 inches | Tent Weight – 95 pounds | Capacity – 6 persons | Ceiling Material – duck canvas | Wall Material – duck canvas | Floor Material – vinyl coated canvas | Easy to Set Up – yes | Number of Doors – 1 | Ventilation Panels – yes | Peak Height – 8 feet 6 inches | Stovepipe Hole – yes
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If you’re into glamping (glamorous camping), then you’re going to love this tent. It certainly has all the makings of a picture perfect camping experience.
It’s pretty large, with a diameter of 13 feet (it’s circular), and comes with 4 windows. You can also go for larger options with more floor room if you want.
It has a 5 inch stove pipe hole on the inside with a flap on top. All the windows feature no-see-um mesh to protect against bugs and the waterproofed canvas on the roof, walls, and floor ensure no water leaking in.
We also liked how easy it was to set up, with a single center pole stakes that one person can easily set up by themselves. Again, our main problem with this one, just like the other, is that not that many people can be standing at the same time.
Even though it has an advertised capacity of 6, it looks more perfectly suited to 2. A romantic couple would love this one.
- Great for glamping
- Has a wide stove pipe hole
- Easy set up
- Not much room for standing
- A bit on the pricier side
The clear winner, based on all the individual merits and demerits of the tents is the Teton Sports Sierra 16 canvas tent. We loved how large it was and how spacious on the inside. It is also a lot more versatile than many of the others. It was also the easiest to set up by far.
That said, they are all really good tents overall and you are bound to enjoy your experience, whichever you buy, depending on your individual needs. At any rate, you’ll enjoy them a lot more than you would a nylon tent!
What is canvas?
Canvas is a kind of material used to make everything from tents to boat sails, to the material artists draw on which, interestingly enough, is called canvas. The artist’s canvas is indeed often made of actual canvas.
Canvas is a natural material, made from different pants. It used to be made from hemp but is now made from cotton. Compare this to synthetic material, such as nylon, which are man-made. Both have their merits and demerits, which we shall talk about a little later.
With advances in technology, a material that is a cross between canvas and synthetic materials, known as poly-canvas, is sometimes used to make tents, combining the best of both worlds. However, even with poly canvas, all of the benefits of canvas are preserved, while the major benefit added is that it is made more resistant to mildew, more waterproof, and even harder to tear than it really is.
You really aren’t missing out on much when you own a canvas tent. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first talk about some of the benefits of canvas tents.
What are the benefits of canvas tents?
- Canvas tents are durable – Canvas tents have an average lifespan of a decade. This is because of how tough and resistant to weather the material is. Compare that to nylon, which lasts between 3 and 4 years on average, depending on how frequently you use it. In fact, canvas is so durable that it is often used on semi-permanent structures, such as concrete and wood beams. For this reason, canvas is a great investment to make if you want a tent that will last you for a long time. It certainly relieves you of having to think about buying another tent for a long while.
- Minimum condensation – Canvas is a breathable material. That means it has little microscopic spaces in the fabric that allow air and water through, as it is made from natural material. For this reason, any moisture that builds up on the inside of the tent will be absorbed by the fabric. For comparison, nylon, which is the other popular material used to make tents, is not breathable. It does not let any air or water through. Sure, on the one hand, this does contribute to its water resistant properties. On the other, however, it means moisture can build up on the inside of a nylon tent with nowhere to escape. The extreme version of this is that puddles of water start to form in the nylon tent. That’s bound to make anyone’s camping experience terrible.
- Can be used year round – One of the best qualities of canvas as a material is that it is a great insulator. As a result, canvas tents can be used all year round. A canvas tent will feel cool when it is overly hot on the outside and warm when it is overly cold on the outside. It is therefore the best for all 4 seasons, especially winter. Nylon is not as good an insulator. Nylon lets heat escape both ways (inside to outside and vice versa) so it will feel very hot when it is hot outside and very cold when it is cold outside. This makes it a poor choice for winter camping.
- Canvas tents can incorporate internal stoves – This sort of ties in with the point on canvas tents being good for use year-round. Not only is a canvas tent a good insulator, but it isn’t a highly flammable material, like nylon. That means you can keep a stove inside your canvas tent during the night or in winter, to make things warmer. Many canvas tents come with stove holes fitted to accommodate internal stoves. You can’t do this with nylon tents, making canvas tents better for winter camping.
- Has good sound insulation – Canvas is a pretty heavy material. The main advantage of this is that your tent won’t be rustling around at every breeze in the night, disturbing your sleep in the process. Moreover, you get better sound insulation. Whatever happens inside the tent stays inside; whatever happens outside, stays outside.
Are canvas tents warmer?
Of course, a good preliminary question to ask here is “compared to what?”
The answer is “compared to nylon.”
Canvas and nylon are the two most popular materials used, and it is normal to compare their relative merits and demerits. In this case, canvas is a much better insulator than nylon. It is made of a thicker and more natural material. The fibers in canvas are made of cotton and have microscopic holes in them that trap air and moisture. This has the effect of trapping heat as well, making them excellent insulators.
Nylon is made from synthetic nylon fibers that do not have these same microscopic holes. As a result, no air, moisture or heat is trapped and the material becomes a poor insulator. That is why canvas tents are warmer during the winter, when they trap the body heat generated by the occupants of a tent (or the heat from an internal stove) and prevent it from escaping, and cooler in the summer, when they stop the heat from the outside from seeping into the tent.
Why is canvas the best material for winter camping?
Okay, so far, we’ve been talking very generally about canvas as a material. However, this review is really about canvas tents for winter camping. We get why canvas tents are great tents overall, but are there particular reasons why they are great for winter? Here are a few:
Canvas tents are much more weather resistant than nylon. Nylon has a bad habit of getting discolored and worn after a while, especially when exposed to the sun. This is because nylon doesn’t react very well to the UV rays from the sun. The result is reduced durability.
Canvas is much harder to wear out, since it doesn’t react to UV rays as adversely as nylon. Winter weather can be harsh all round, so if you want a tent that can stand many winters before it throws the towel in, you’re better off going for canvas.
This is the biggest benefit of going for a canvas tent. Canvas is a great insulator and so makes for a warmer tent in the winter. The canvas material is pretty thick; much thicker than nylon.
When it comes to losing the heat from the inside to the outside, it does so a lot slower than nylon. That means the heat generated inside the tent will stay on for longer and have time to circulate within the tent.
One of the biggest draws for nylon is that it can get really noisy inside when there’s a breeze outside. Nylon is a lightweight material. This is an advantage for backpackers who want to lighten their load when carrying their camping gear.
On the other hand, it also means the slightest breeze is going to get your tent rustling when it comes around. If you’re the kind of person that needs absolute silence to sleep, then that’s going to be a problem.
Personally, we prefer something stable; something that doesn’t make feel like the wind will carry away my tent and we’ll be left at the mercy of the snow. You don’t have to worry about that with canvas. The noise is reduced to a minimum and you can sleep just fine.
Speaking of things getting carried away by the wind, canvas is definitely a lot more stable than nylon, again owing to the heaviness of the material. A stable tent will hold against inclement weather, which is pretty common in winter.
That’s why canvas is so popular when building larger tents. Not only is it safer, but it actually makes you feel safer. It certainly made us sleep more peacefully.
Can accommodate an internal stove
Canvas is an excellent insulator, making canvas tents warmer than nylon ones in the winter. However, the warmth generated by body temperature is anything but enough to keep you warm in winter. What you need therefore is an internal stove. You put some wood into it, or use a gas stove, light it up, and bask in the warmth.
Many canvas tents come with a hole for the stove, where the exhaust gases (in the case of a wood burning stove) can escape while keeping you warm. The canvas isn’t flammable, so you don’t have to worry about setting it on fire.
Your winter camping experience is bound to be a lot warmer this way. On the other hand, lighting a stove in a nylon tent is a dangerous thing to do.
Large internal floor area
Canvas tents to be much larger than nylon tents. Nylon tents are often built to cater to the backpackers who need small, easily portable tents for one or two.
They therefore don’t offer much in the way of floor area. Canvas tents are larger and more suited to larger groups of people. They also have more floor area for cooking, eating, sleeping, and storage, reducing your need to go outside.
Canvas tents are more expensive than nylon tents when you consider the initial outlay. However, with 2 to 3 times the life span of nylon tents, they clearly provide more value for those who want something that lasts longer and is more versatile overall.
Disadvantages of canvas tents
So we’ve talked about all the merits of canvas tents. This guide, however, won’t be complete without considering the other side of the coin. Here are some of the disadvantages of canvas tents:
- Canvas tents are heavy and bulky – This is partly due to the fact that canvas itself is a heavy material and also partly due to the fact that canvas tents, on average, tend to be larger than nylon tents. As a result, carrying a canvas tent around is the kind of thing that’s only viable if you have a car. It’s not suitable for backpacking.
- Canvas tents need to be weathered in – When you buy a new canvas tent, you have to weather it in by leaving it out under your garden spray or in the rain overnight. This is to get the cotton wet and get it to expand to fill the spaces in the material. If you don’t do this, your canvas tent is likely to leak the first time it gets rained on while you’re camping.
- Canvas tents need drying – Because canvas is made of a natural material, it is important to leave it completely dry before storing it. It will otherwise get mildew and a bad smell.
- Canvas tents are more expensive – Because of their superior durability and the many benefits of the material, canvas tents are more expensive than nylon tents.
- Canvas tents need more maintenance than nylon tents – To be honest, this is only a disadvantage in the beginning, as the canvas gets weathered in. In the beginning, it is not as waterproof as nylon, so you need to provide extra waterproofing for it. After a while, however, the material gets weathered in and becomes almost equally as waterproof as nylon.